Urban Agriculture: 8 Landscape Architecture Firms Leading the Way
There are few landscape architecture firms today that can say Urban Agriculture Design is on their shortlist of services offered. Most firms are capable of designing a productive space, of course, whether or not they can say they specialize in this area of design is another matter. Below are eight North American Landscape Architecture firms that are leading the way through their own advocacy and stellar Urban Agriculture projects.
1. HB Lanarc - Vancouver & Nanimo, BC
Located on Canada's west coast, this landscape architecture firm concentrates on sustainability, focusing on ways to design the "ecologically resilient, and prosperous communities" of tomorrow. HB Lanarc also has several specialties. one of course including urban agriculture. Their focus is a little more broad however, "Sustainable Food Systems & Agricultural Urbanism," is the technical service provided. Designing urban farms is only one aspect of their speciality, they also provide policy, planning, and guidelines for food systems in cities.
In my first installment of the UA series, I listed the Top 4 Urban Agriculture Books. including Agricultural Urbanism. The author, Janine de la Salle, is the Planner and Food Agricultural Systems Specialist. She not only provides designs, but also works with municipalities to develop food strategies and policy, and shares her knowledge through lectures and workshops on urban agriculture.
In their portfolio is a project called 'False Creek Urban Agriculture Design Guidelines '. This project works on fitting productive landscapes into residential landscapes, and how food in the community can help redesign and rebuild a neighbourhood's social and sustainable outlook.
2. Grow Studio (EOA) - New York, NY
At the offices of EOA (Elmslie Osler Architecture) there is a division called Grow Studio. which specializes in urban agriculture. Like the other firms mentioned in my list, Grow Studio brings added value to EOA and visa-versa, as they focus on integrating food systems into the "existing commercial, residential, and community and ivic parks." EOA also specializes in architectural branding, so rest a sure that any urban agriculture project will be distinctive.
One cool project that is still in the works is called The Urban Farming Food Chain. It is a series of vertical growing spaces in the city, which create a continuous harvest of fruits and veggies. They also plan on adding a classroom and kitchen facilities in phase 4.
Image courtesy of EOA.
3. Urban Edge Studio - Mount Pleasant, SC
Bill Eubanks, the Creative Director for Urban Edge Studio (UES), recently spoke at LaBASH 2013 (a student run conference for students in landscape architecture) about designing urban agriculture. UES specializes in urban walkability, streetscapes, plazas and parks and pretty much anything else to do with the 'urban-scape,' and it just so happens that all their design beliefs support urban agriculture as well.
UES has done multiple urban agricultural projects, but one in particular, called the Medical University of South Carolina's Urban Farm (MUSC), they worked on in collaboration with Crop Up . The landscape architectural and urban design skills of UES matched with Crop Up's educational, inspirational, and planning background, made MUSC Farm a successful design. MUSC Urban Farm stands by the university's mission to attain healthy lifestyles
and to educate people, by adding classrooms, workshops, and food production and educational opportunities.
4. Crop Up - Charleston, SC
Crop Up is a consulting firm that specializes in creating "food projects in urban areas." Founder Elizabeth Peak's expertise and experience in permaculture and food education gives her the perfect edge in completing urban agriculture projects.
5. April Philips Design Works - San Rafael, CA
April Philips Design Works (APDW) focuses on places for people to escape and enjoy. The firm also specializes on the sustainability aspect of projects. Lead by April Philips. author of Designing Urban Agriculture. APDW offers the regular services of any successful landscape architecture firm, plus something special: urban agricultural landscapes and green roof design. Her credibility, expertise, and knowledge, give this firm an agricultural advantage.
APDW in conjunction with Miller Creek Middle School created the Miller Creek Edible Garden - a kid friendly, food focused, learning sanctuary right on the school grounds. The design focuses on experiential and hands on learning.
6. Kenneth Weikal Landscape Architecture - Farmington Hill, MI.
Kenneth Weikal Landscape Architecture is a well know landscape architecture firm, specializing in sustainability, horticulture, master planning, etc. and now, productive landscapes. The firm designed the famous Lafayette Greens Urban Garden in Lafayette, Detroit. This garden is in the heart of an under-utilized and forgotten section of downtown Detroit. Now the farm has revitalized the area and has allowed people to gain a sense of community and have a place to learn and interact with one another. Landscape Architecture Magazine (LAM) recently did an article on the farm in their April issue.
7. Nelson Byrd Woltz - California, New York, & Virginia
Nelson Byrd Woltz. the classic and quite recognizable landscape architecture firm (the one that designed one of my favourite public parks - City Garden ), now does food landscapes. NBW recently just came out with a book called Garden, Park, Community, Farm which shows off selected works. The firm designed the Urban Farm of Charlottesville in a low income area with hopes to create a sense of community, access to fresh food, and to help educate the citizens about nutrition.
8. BASE Landscape - San Francisco & Berkeley, CA
" Landscapes are the physical manifestations of our values," is this firms design philosophy. BASE Landscape wants to recreate what we as humans value the most, and they sure know that this is to sustain ourselves (or in other words. food). A fun and collaborative studio, BASE specializes in 'foodscapes' and a quick look at their portfolio will show you some of the groundbreaking projects they have been working on.
Once a former parking lot, the Bronx Roofpark is five acres of rooftop farm and playground - the ultimate oasis for food education with outdoor kitchens, recreational activities and play spaces to inspire New York City's youth.
Image courtesy of BASE Landscape Architecture // Samantha Dabney. All images above courtesy of firm unless otherwise noted.
Do you know of other landscape architecture firms that specialize in urban agriculture projects? Let us know your favorite by leaving a comment below.